When Hollywood Fame Dies Out

Silver Screenings

Barbara La Marr was too busy to sleep. Image: Silence is Platinum

On the face of it, Hollywood looks like many North American neighbourhoods. There are coffee shops, tree-lined streets and folks who nod Hello.

But, like any town, Hollywood has seen its share of, uh, unsavoury activities. As author Michael G. Ankerich says, “Hollywood’s secret world resembled everyday life in sunny California.”¹

Ankerich’s recently-published Hairpins and Dead Ends: The Perilous Journeys of 25 Actresses Through Early Hollywood looks at 25 actresses in the silent era who wanted to Make It Big in the movies. These women were, for a time, Hollywood’s Bright Young Things.

Their success is noteworthy, but it’s what happened After Fame that is the focus of this book. They are stories of tragedy, mainly; several of these actresses died as young women.

For example, Barbara La Marr (pictured above) was ambitious and self-destructive. She rarely slept…

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